The Engineer's Lament - The New Yorker

In the early nineteen-seventies, Denny Gioia worked in the recall office of the Ford Motor Company. His job was to read field reports from the engineers Ford had posted around the country. If a safety problem was spotted, the Ford representative in that district would write up the case on a standardized form—single sheet, two sides, sometimes with a photograph stapled to the page—and send it on to Detroit. Gioia looked for patterns. From the case reports that came in, Gioia built files, hundreds of them. He posted updates on a large bulletin board listing all the recalls that Ford had open at the time. His responsibility was to put cases on the “docket,” the slate of potential recalls. They would go through every case on the docket and vote on whether to send it to the executive committee. “I was young, I was relatively low pay grade, but it was an extraordinarily powerful position, in the sense of being able to influence people to do things,” Gioia said. “If I picked up the phone and said, ‘This is Gioia from recall office,’ people jumped. Gioia is a car guy. Source: